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Æthelberht of Kent

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1 Æthelberht of Kent on Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:01 pm

Æthelberht (also Æthelbert, Aethelberht, Aethelbert, or Ethelbert) (c. 560 – 24 February 616) was King of Kent from about 580 or 590 until his death. In his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the eighth-century monk Bede lists Aethelberht as the third king to hold imperium over other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the late ninth century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Æthelberht is referred to as a bretwalda, or "Britain-ruler". He was the first English king to convert to Christianity.
He was the son of Eormenric, succeeding him as king, according to the Chronicle. He married Bertha, the Christian daughter of Charibert, king of the Franks, thus building an alliance with the most powerful state in contemporary Western Europe; the marriage probably took place before Æthelberht came to the throne. The influence of Bertha may have led to the decision by Pope Gregory I to send Augustine as a missionary from Rome. Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet in east Kent in 597. Shortly thereafter, Æthelberht was converted to Christianity, churches were established, and wider-scale conversion to Christianity began in the kingdom. Æthelberht provided the new church with land in Canterbury, at what came to be known as St Augustine's Abbey.



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